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Five Current Global Issues

current global issues
In the 21 century, the world has made great strides in reducing poverty, eliminating diseases and improving the quality of life for all. However, this progress rests on shaky foundations. Current global issues threaten to undermine humanity’s attempts to better the world and damage all of society.

According to the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability, global issues are those that potentially affect everyone on earth, not just large groups of people. Similarly, solutions to global issues require all people to cooperate in order to meaningfully change the status quo. Since they pose a fundamental risk to society as a whole, global issues require much attention.

Here are just five examples of current global issues. Many of them are interconnected, but any one of them could have serious consequences for everyone if left unchecked.

1. Terrorism

International terrorist organizations can cause conflict anywhere, thus terrorism is a global issue. The expansion of attacks by terrorists hurts many people in developing countries; according to the U.S. State Department, terrorist attacks killed over 11,000 and wounded 21,000 in 2012.

Terrorism also had wide-ranging economic impacts. Former U.S. Ambassador Francis Taylor found that global airline industries lost             $15 billion and global insurance industries lost $50 billion in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. World governments will need to strengthen their relations and promote democratic principles to reduce terrorist threats.

2. Lack of International Labor Laws

Weak international labor laws are a global issue because they hurt workers in the developing world and the economies of developed nations. Laws must exist to protect workers’ rights while allowing multinational firms to do business. The World Bank urges countries to cooperate and strengthen labor laws to prevent abuses and ensure fair wages; at the same time, the laws must facilitate wealth creation. Without optimal rules, the world economy weakens and workers face terrible conditions.

3. Climate Change

Climate change affects all of earth’s environments and is thus a global issue. A report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) found that droughts and extreme weather would intensify globally, leading to poor crop yield, water shortages and even desertification. The worst-affected areas, Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, will have trouble adapting because per capita GDP is low; millions will be unable to grow or afford food and will starve.

As entire regions face food crises, global economic production becomes much lower, and nations have to care for hungry refugees that flee inhospitable conditions. To prevent the situation from becoming worse, the world must adopt more sustainable energy policies and waste management practices.

4. Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotic resistance is another global issue that threatens the health of millions and the progress of modern medicine. In 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced the discovery of drug-resistant E. coli, staph and pneumonia-causing viruses all over the world; it also found that 20 percent of previously treated tuberculosis cases were drug-resistant.

The emergence of antibiotic-resistant disease is extremely dangerous. Antibiotics that people use to treat serious infections will stop working and disease fatalities will increase. The global community will need to implement stronger restrictions on antibiotic use to curb drug resistance in deadly diseases.

5. Poverty

While many of the above problems exacerbate poverty in many world regions, poverty itself is a global issue because it leads to social problems that affect even the richest people. According to the research site Poverties.org, poverty leads to higher crime rates, more instances of substance abuse and greater susceptibility to infectious disease. This hurts economic productivity and can lead to instability. Poverty also is linked to terrorism. Consequently, the world must fight poverty to address other global issues.

The world’s current global issues are complex, interconnected problems that require concentrated action for systemic change. Any single global issue could become a crisis with huge economic and human costs. Only with strong international cooperation can the world solve global issues.

-Ted Rappleye

Sources: U.S. State Department 1, U.S. State Department 2, World Bank, OECD, WHO, Poverties, Nautilus Institute
Photo: Flickr